“Odd” and “disconcerting” were words some people in Maine are using to describe this weekend’s unofficial kickoff to summer.
Memorial Day weekend is traditionally a time for traffic, crowds and lines at seafood takeout joints in the Pine Tree State.
But this year, because of COVID-19, cancelled parades and a 14-day quarantine for out-of-state visitors, crowds were virtually non-existent.
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“Normally there’d be traffic lined up from across the bridge to the top of the hill,” said Mark Durgin, who was visiting a quiet downtown Kennebunkport on Monday which he described as “deserted.”
In Wells, a handful of in and out-of-state cars could be found parked near coastal walking trails.
In Biddeford, Pool, Goldthwaite’s and Pool Lobster, which jointly function as a store in the middle of the village, was closed.
“This would be filled with people,” said co-manager Ada Goff as she gestured to the yard where customers would normally be enjoying lobster rolls and other snacks overlooking Saco Bay, which was instead crowded with stacked picnic tables.
Goff said this was the first time in 20 years that the shop had been closed for Memorial Day since staff is still installing safety equipment and developing an online ordering platform so it can function in a contactless fashion.
But the opening date has been set for mid-June, which gave Goff her first Memorial Day to herself in decades, which she appreciated, even if part of her missed serving regular customers.
“It’s the first time I’ve had a Memorial Day weekend off since we moved to Maine,” she explained.
What happens beyond the holiday is anyone’s guess.
For Goff, she says she’ll be missing a significant chunk of income if short-term renters aren’t able to visit Maine whether that’s because of the visitor quarantine, because they lost a job and can’t afford to visit or don’t feel safe traveling.
A summer defined by curbside takeout setups in Maine may also be defined by a lot of uncertainty.
“It is way too early to tell what it’s going to be like,” said Goff.